Protesters jeer May as she reveals manifesto targeting pensioners
by Lamiat Sabin and Peter Lazenby in Halifax and London
MILLIONS of pensioners face a triple whammy of “dementia tax” policies, including paying for their own social care at home, under new proposals outlined in the new Tory manifesto.
Hundreds of protesters delivered a “not welcome here” message to Prime Minister Theresa May as she launched her manifesto yesterday in Halifax, West Yorkshire — which included raising the limit of care costs, downgrading pensions and scrapping universal winter fuel allowance for wealthier pensioners.
She was met with jeers at the former textile mill complex that is now occupied by employees of small businesses — many of whom had been told by bosses to stay home for the day.
The manifesto lays out a number of damaging policies, including scrapping the £72,000 limit for residential or home care costs and getting rid of the triple-lock guarantee.
The triple-lock currently requires state pensions to increase each year by the largest of either 2.5 per cent, inflation or average earnings.
It would be replaced with a double-lock of earnings or inflation from 2020.
And the Tories want pensioners to pay more towards care costs, with the means-tested threshold for free care raised from £23,250 to £100,000 — but enforcing sales of homes or assets worth more than the latter figure when the patient dies.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the plan, which he called a “tax on dementia,” was a “very, very bad idea” because costs spanning a large number of years can be “enormous” compared to the average house price of up to £300,000.
He also said bringing in means-testing for the winter fuel allowance would be “very expensive.”
Sir Andrew Dilnot who produced a report on the social care system for the coalition government in 2011 said it was wrong to scrap the £72,000 care cost cap and recommended that patients’ contributions be limited to £35,000.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “People unlucky enough to suffer the need for care costs will be left helpless. They will be entirely on their own until they are down to their last £100,000 of all of their wealth, including their house.”
National Pensioners Convention general secretary Jan Shortt condemned the policies as “a Frankenstein’s monster of a plan which bolts lots of bad policies together.”
She added: “This plan has completely failed to spread the risk and cost of social care across society as a whole, and in effect has left the burden on the shoulders of millions of older people and their families.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the Tories of publishing an un-costed manifesto that “contains more questions than answers” while the party has managed to add £700 billion to the national debt since 2010.
During the demonstration outside the mill, protesters picketed three entrances while Ms May sneaked in by another entrance in a Jaguar accompanied by 4x4s carrying supporters and security staff.
Unite Community organiser John Coan, whose group evaded police to display a banner declaring “End Zero Hours Contracts” in front of a Tory battle bus — told the Star: “Unlike Jeremy Corbyn who has been walking the streets, Theresa May hid herself.”
Among the protesters were Kirsty Barwick and Nathan Patchett. He said: “It just really got to us — with being parents of a newborn. May is now cutting free school meals. It is absolutely disgusting.”